Matter As Metaphor, Part One: Physical Realities as Metaphors for Inner Realities … The Physical World Is Our Indirect Perception of Psychic and Spiritual Realities
If one is open to this possibility, the messages/truths are everywhere to be found. And the Universe and one’s experience of Reality becomes the grandest, wisest, truest, and most beneficent of teachers.
Physical Realities As Metaphors for Inner Realities
The modern day holy man from India, Sathya Sai Baba, explained, “He who seeks the Guru can find him in every word spoken within his hearing, in every incident that happens around him” (1991, p. 16).
There is every reason to believe that he meant this literally. And, considering that in this context “guru” had the meaning of God and the cosmic divinity, the statement bespeaks much more than that as well.
Lawlor (1989b) tells us how the Australian Aborigines’ idea that the world is a metaphor or imprint for a truer inner reality is the essential element in their world view. As he put it:
All of existence is the projection outward of internal, subjective states into objective ideas, forms, and substances; the Sky is the “dreaming” of the Earth. All life and all energies emerge from the Earth, even those we consider subtle and celestial. There is a constant exchange between the Earth and its dreaming. The stars in the sky are the spirit energy of beings who were born from, and who have lived on, Earth, just as all men emerge into the world from the female womb. These ancestral beings return from the dreaming (the starry firmament) as radiated light and heat, which generate new life on Earth. The male sperm is analogous to this radiation as it fertilizes the female but, itself, was born from the female. Our minds and imaginations are always attempting to listen to the voice returning from the starry ancestors and we then reimage them. (p. 43, emphases mine)
In another place Lawlor (1992) phrases it: “The dreamtime creation myths of the Aborigines guided them to see the physical world as a language, as a metamorphosis of invisible spirit’s psychological and ethical realms” (p. 22).
Similarly, Laing (1988) tells us, “The whole world was once part of man’s psyche, but no longer” (p. 62).
This idea of the physical universe as reflecting and expressing our basic spiritual and psychological realities is a common perception and viewpoint of mystics of all traditions. In the West, the twelfth century mystic, Hildegard, wrote about this vision of reality. Of her, it’s been said, “Hildegard plainly uses physical laws as illustrations of spiritual truths” (Uhlein, 1991, p. 54). And further on: “Physical images are most useful to Hildegard in comprehending the things of the soul” (p. 54). This relates to the idea of physical reality as metaphor.
Like the Platonists, she understands the world to consist of four elements: fire and water, earth and wind. She employs these pairs archetypically, to describe psychological traits and to create complex analogies for spiritual development. (p. 54)
The point is that this is the same way in which we are talking about physical reality as metaphor: that in fact the world as we perceive it gives us lessons in underlying realities which are, in the absolute sense, more true; that, in actual fact, the psychological traits of which she speaks are simply reflected in nature in the form of earth, wind, fire, and water, and so on.
This perspective is expressed poetically this way:
How in autumn, even before the leaves fall,
When they’re all at their height of color,
Next year’s leaves are already there, tiny,
on either side of the stem of each leaf
where it meets the branch,
Already there, waiting,
Before the leaf that is still there
is dead and falls,
Tiny folded leafbudsheath
Resembling two hands in prayer
Palm to palm with fingers extended.
Life after death exists
even before you’re dead.
Or how when a redwood tree is cut down or blown over
It doesn’t die because the roots
Curl up out of the earth and become
Each of which can grow to be
Just as tall just as old
as the tree which was there before.
It’d be as if you were cut off at the ankles
And your top taken away to make The Milwaukee Journal
And your toes curled into the ground and came up
as ten new “you’s — looking exactly like you
and being exactly like you.
And so a redwood you see now that’s 2000 years old
may’ve come from the root of a redwood that was
2000 years old
that may’ve come from the root of a redwood that was
2000 years old
so far back that it’s literally one million years old!
And that’s why they’re called Sequoia sempervirens,
Proving . . . what?
Even before you’re dead
life after death exists. (Antler, 1991, p. 61)
At this point, I feel it is important to stress that I am proposing much more than that the physical world is a source of metaphors or analogies for expressing psychic and spiritual truths. If this were all there were to it, I would be saying nothing more than that our perceptions of reality are a good poetic source, which is rather close to asserting nothing at all.
One’s Experience of Reality Is the Wisest and Most Beneficent of Teachers.
From the preceding chapters, it should be clear that what I am saying is that the physical world is our indirect perception (for direct perception, look within) of spiritual and psychic realities. Hence, the physical world can not help but express the spiritual and psychic. What I am saying is: Look around yourself; the world is rife with messages, both personal and universal, relating to your place in the Universe, the meaning of our existence, the meaning of existence itself, and, most importantly, of guidance for getting us back hOMe. If one is open to this possibility, the messages/truths are everywhere to be found. And the Universe and one’s experience of Reality becomes the grandest, wisest, truest, and most beneficent of teachers.
Continue with Looking Deeply Into the Message of the World … and Siddhartha: Have You Also Learned the Secret of the River That There is No Time? Everything Has Reality and Presence.
Return to Humans Have Developed Language Because of Their Inability to Truly Communicate … We Substitute Pseudo for Real Activity: Ritual as Shadow, Part Eleven
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